Mark Blankenship, EVP, Jack in the Box, Discusses What Makes A Successful Strategy

Execution, commitment, and buy-in are all central


Mark Blankenship has over 25 years of experience in research, consulting and technology, and currently serves as Executive Vice President, Chief People, Culture & Corporate Strategy Officer of Fortune 1000 company Jack in the Box Inc. Having been with the company since 1997, Mark is responsible for corporate strategy, consumer intelligence & business analytics, human resources and organization culture. 

Mark also serves on the board of The Jack in the Box Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses the company’s charitable donations to make a difference in communities where employees, franchisees and guests of Jack in the Box restaurants work and live. Ahead of his presentation at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit in San Francisco this May 18-19, we sat down with Mark to hear his thoughts on the role of the strategist and the changing field in which he works. 

What do you think are the main qualities of a successful strategy?

Above and beyond mapping out the best possible positions to compete in, a successful strategy takes into consideration the following:

  • Ability of the organization to execute it (ready, willing and able)
  • Commitment / alignment from the top on why, what and how of execution
  • Buy-in from stakeholders (do they believe and are they committed.

How do you think the role of a strategist is changing?

Today’s strategist is more than an analytical tool of the organization. They must understand the complexities/realities of their organization and must build bridges across the functional boundaries to garner support for strategy and strategic initiatives. Second, they must see strategy as more than strategic planning, and more than an event. Marketplace and organizational dynamics imply that strategy must also become dynamic and agile.

How important is flexibility when creating new strategies?

Flexibility to pivot when necessary is critical. Choice is important in flexibility but it shouldn’t come at the expense of commitment.

Have the attitudes of a new generation of workers affected how strategy is formulated or implemented?

By far the biggest change I am seeing is that today’s workforce wants their work (and the organization’s output) to have a deeper meaning than profit. They want to connect to something bigger, something more meaningful… like purpose.

What can delegates expect from your upcoming presentation at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit?

Because of my background I bring a slightly different perspective to the table when it comes to strategy. Delegates can expect to hear more about the softer side of strategy and strategic execution. What often distinguishes good from poor execution isn’t the strategy!

You can hear more from Mark along with other leading senior strategy executives at the Chief Strategy Officer Summit, taking place in San Francisco this May 18-19. 


Image courtesy of LifetimeStock /

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